James 1:3-4 has stalked me since Sunday morning.
“Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4 NIV).
The Amplified Bible is helpful:
“Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be (people) perfectly developed (with no defects), lacking in nothing.”
The Message Bible is more direct:
“So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
A couple of weeks ago, Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things will be added…” slammed into me. How does one “seek” the Kingdom? What does that mean—seek? It is much larger than praying.
James W. Marshall’s employer needed lumber for his many businesses. When local timber was exhausted, Marshall suggested he could go into the mountain, harvest trees, mill the lumber and float it down the river. It was branded “a harebrained idea” but Marshall wouldn’t give up. He secured a contract, money, supplies and men from the employer and built a sawmill where the timber was.
When the mill was completed, a structural defect was found that blocked the floating lumber. The flow was too shallow. The channel had to be deepened by blasting. Marshall turned off the water flow to examine the deepened tailrace and to examine the gravel, rock and debris. The story is dramatic and methodical. In a few words, James Marshall discovered the blast and water flow had loosened gold. Thus began the California Gold Rush.
Seeking, persevering and “lacking nothing” ties together. I’ve thought of perseverance as a habit, personal characteristic, passive waiting—waiting something out. I now see that it is aggressive seeking. (“What’s going on here?”) To a James Marshall that gives perseverance opportunity to do its work. Marshall was not seeking gold. He was trying to figure out why the logs wouldn’t flow downstream. He refused to give up. He stuck to it. It was not “dogged stupidity,” but digging for reasons. The work of perseverance set loose something grander.
Marshall’s wet boots tell the story. Instead of walking away, he let perseverance do its work. He did not avoid the blockage. He waded into the mud to seek the reason for blockages. Perseverance is a universal Kingdom principle. That means it is not a respecter of persons. It doesn’t care who lets it do the work. Muddy boots, shovel, pickax and a questioning mind are the tools.
Kingdom people are instructed, “So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.” Don’t rush away from the blocked stream too soon. Strange procedure—the way perseverance works: defect, explosion, gold.
Lord, what are you trying to teach me with these blockages, barriers, betrayals? I desire to fit into your plan so that the outcome will be a mature me, well-developed and lacking nothing.
©2015 D. Dean Benton https://www.bentonministries.com/